6.5 x 55 Swede for African plains game

KMG Hunting Safaris

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Had quite a few hunters use them over the years, and the 6.5 worked very well. Just dont try and extend its capability on some of the tougher game.
 

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Great caliber and does it's best work with 140-160 gr bullets. As mentioned use it within it's capability and you will be just fine.

Where you intend to hunt and what you intend hunting with it will also be a determining factor.
 

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It will work well using 120-140gr Swift A-Frames or 140gr Nosler partitions. Those would be my choices but others bullets will also work. Using cup-core bullets may limit the range of game I would want to use the cartridge on. Remember the bullet is the cheapest part of the hunt and the main factor that determines success or failure. So do not cut cost there.
 

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I hunt extensively with a heavily modified Ruger M77 MkII. (As much as possible I have tried to make it feel, look and function like an english sporting rifle). The 6.5x55 is my FAVORITE rifle cartridge even though I use my medium bores to hunt with more. The 6.5 swede will penetrate very, very well and although its diameter is pretty small, I would put it up against a .30-06 on anything Kudu or smaller. For Eland, I would likely take my .375 H&H but only for insurance purposes. Keep the velocity around 2,600-2,650 and your pressures will be low and accuracy should be around 1-1.5MOA or better. This is more than enough for a 300-350 yard shot on deer sized game. I am lucky that once I glass bedded mine it prints a whole bunch of 140 grain Nosler Partitions right on top of each other. These are the bullets I would load if I were taking mine to Africa for Plainsgame

For the heavier variety of antelope or smaller (Kudu/Zebra Sized):

Woodleigh's 160 grain PP - If the twist in your rifle is fast enough
Norma Oryx 156 grain
Swift A-Frame - 140 Grain

These two if my safari were for game that is typically on the lighter side (Wildebeest sized):

Nosler Partition 140 grain
Swift Scirocco 130 grain

These are just my opinions but I like to always make sure my round will make it to the vitals from any conceivable angle I could ethically shoot at.
 

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"These two if my safari were for game that is typically on the lighter side (Wildebeest sized):"

Wildebeest- lighter side- Huh?- not the same wildebeest I'm familiar with!

For all plains game... My idea of "lighter" is slightly different- more like: impala, gazelle, springbok, bushbuck, reedbuck, etc. Wildebeest are NOT small (light), with the blue variety males at about 550 lbs and they have a well earned reputation (and by my experience) for being one of the tougher plains game as do the oryx and zebra. While southern greater kudu are slightly larger than blue wildebeest they do not have a reputation for being especially tough (also by my experience).

My arbitrary, subjective categories of size could be broken into four groups: 1) large- eland, a large eland bull really outclasses all other plains game for size, 2) medium- oryx, wildebeest, hartebeest, waterbuck, sable, zebra, kudu, etc., 3) light, small: impala, gazelle, reedbuck, bushbuck, springbok, etc., 4) very light, very small: duiker, klipspringer, grysbok, oribi, steenbok, etc.

Of course the 6.5 x 55 will kill plains game. Would I choose it on purpose for large plains game like eland- no. Too many other, better choices.
 
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DmacD

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Just asking those who are in the know, but are there any calibre limitations for specific countries? For example, would the 6.6x55 be legal in South Africa, Namibia, and the other usual hunt friendly countries in Africa? I too shoot a 6.5x55, and love it, but only for game as large as White tailed deer.
 

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Just asking those who are in the know, but are there any calibre limitations for specific countries? For example, would the 6.6x55 be legal in South Africa, Namibia, and the other usual hunt friendly countries in Africa? I too shoot a 6.5x55, and love it, but only for game as large as White tailed deer.

I used a 6.5x47, a 6.5-.284 and a .26 Nosler in Africa and know of no restrictions on plains game calibers. This was on a game ranch/farm where I believe one can shoot pretty much whatever your PH says is ok. As always, shot placement and using a rifle you are confident with are the priorities.
 
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ChrisG

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"These two if my safari were for game that is typically on the lighter side (Wildebeest sized):"

Wildebeest- lighter side- Huh?- not the same wildebeest I'm familiar with!


For all plains game... My idea of "lighter" is slightly different- more like: impala, gazelle, springbok, bushbuck, reedbuck, etc. Wildebeest are NOT small (light), with the blue variety males at about 550 lbs and they have a well earned reputation (and by my experience) for being one of the tougher plains game as do the oryx and zebra. While southern greater kudu are slightly larger than blue wildebeest they do not have a reputation for being especially tough (also by my experience).

My arbitrary, subjective categories of size could be broken into four groups: 1) large- eland, a large eland bull really outclasses all other plains game for size, 2) medium- oryx, wildebeest, hartebeest, waterbuck, sable, zebra, kudu, etc., 3) light, small: impala, gazelle, reedbuck, bushbuck, springbok, etc., 4) very light, very small: duiker, klipspringer, grysbok, oribi, steenbok, etc.

Of course the 6.5 x 55 will kill plains game. Would I choose it on purpose for large plains game like eland- no. Too many other, better choices.
Fair enough. Thanks for the correction!
 

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WITHOUT A DOUBT the 6.5 x 55 Swede will take African PG. Quanticman, if you haven't done so already you need to read what Nathan Foster (a long range hunter from New Zealand) has to say about Swedes in the knowledgebase portion of his web-site. Here is the link. https://www.ballisticstudies.com/ The Swede is my go to rifle for all deer sized animals. If you reload and take Nathan's message to heart, the old Swede leaves very little on the table when compared to modern 6.5 offerings.
 

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Quanticman, I live in the States but fairly close to you in Grosse Ile, Michigan. It is an island about half a mile West of Amherstberg. I took my Swede to Africa on my first hunt and was thrilled by it's performance. My reloads are achieving 2775 FPS with a 140 Gr. Nosler Partition. If you want to talk instead of type send me a Personal Message (start a conversation) on AH with your contact information.
 

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My son hunts with a 6.5x55 using 140 gr Noslers @2580 f/s in the bush and 140 gr @ 2750 f/s in open area. His last hunt - Waterbuck full frontal shot. Ran 10 yeards.
He has hunted from warthog to bluewildebeest.

799690AF-A8AC-415F-B3C8-AA9486E89C18.jpeg
 
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Daga Boy

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I bought a Ruger M77 in 6.5 x 55 for my son about 12 years ago but he was attached to my .308 so I left him to get on with that and started using the 6.5 myself.
It is brilliant calibre which punches way above its weight. I have shot all types of game in all sorts of terrain with it - from springbuck in the desert to large antelope (Kudu, gemsbuck, waterbuck, blue wildebeest, etc) in the bush. Zebra too. I only use 140gr bullets and I cant recall having had to shoot any animal more than once with the 6.5. Penetration is amazing (typically right through a big wildebeest but not exiting) and meat damage is minimal because of the relatively low velocities. Even wildebeest and zebra, both of which are known to be "tough customers" don't generally go more than about 20m when shot in the chest . Even Eland have been taken with this calibre. Note: recommended calibres for eland are a lot bigger - like 338WM, 9.3 x 62, 375H&H, etc.
All in all I would say that the terminal effect of a 140gr 6.5mm bullet is very much the same as 170gr or 180gr bullet fired from a .308 or 30-06. Internal wound channels are sometimes quite big, which leads me to speculate that the bullets are inclined to tumble or keyhole after impact. If I am correct then that would explain why the calibre kills so well.
The 6.5 x 55 is not an ideal long range cartidge when loaded with 140 grainers. Its OK out to 300m or thereabouts but happier at say 250m and below. It can also be used virtually point blank without serious risk of bullet failure.
I know from reports that 120gr monometal bullets like Barnes TSX also work very well in this calibre and would try to work up a good 120gr load if i were to do a lot of hunting in the desert (as I used to at one time) or in mountainous terrain as that should yield a flatter trajectory; however there are other calibres that are better suited to long range applications.
So yes, if you have a 6.5 x 55 and are coming to Africa then by all means bring it along.
Note though that you will need to check calibre restrictions with your outfitter or guide as the 6.5/264 calibre falls below the minimum threshold in some regions/ on some properties. e.g. In Namibia the stipulated minimum is generally 7mm except for springbuck and in South Africa many land owners stipulate a minimum of .270 on bigger animals like kudu. It is not however a law so there is some flexibility.
 

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Love my Tikka T3 Lite SS in 6.5 x 55 SE!!!!!!!! That's it in my avatar picture and took that little caribou bull at about 25 yds with a 140 gr Hornady SST. The round did not exit, entered the near shoulder and blew out the opposite shoulder, with the majority of the jacket and core buried into the ball socket. Animal dropped like a rock and was drt before it hit the ground. Caribou are not generally very hardy animals. If you hit them in a non vital spot, they just stand there until they die or get hit again. That's what happened with my other caribou, caught it in a grazing shot just below the back straps and then planted another one into the boiler room and it collapsed. I do handload, so the 140 gr SST rounds I have loaded up are doing just about 2850 fps. I also have some 129 gr SSTs that shout close to 3000 fps and some 160 gr Woodleigh PPRNs at about 2600 fps. I use the 129 gr SSTs on anything whitetail and smaller. The 160s have been used on hogs out to 150 yds and haven't recovered a bullet yet with all of them being pass through the shoulders. All animals have dropped on the spot after being shot and outside of the one grazing shot on my second caribou, I have only needed one shot to anchor all other game. If I can take it to Africa for PGs, I will and have no reservations about using it. I do have plans to take it to Washington state for some elk hunting soon too. Good hunting and stay safe!
 

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Nick, if you don't mind sharing, what load are you using to get 2850 FPS using a 140 Gr. SST? My loads are about 75 FPS slower than that. I've hunted hogs a couple of times within an hour or two from San Antonio. When the guide told me that I didn't need to shoot them through the chest but rather below and behind the ear, that was all she wrote. My old Swed. has dropped a bunch of hogs since then. In Africa I used it on the smaller PG animals in our package. Since you reload, take a look at Nathan Foster's treatise on the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser in his Knowledgbase. Here is the link to his web-site.
https://www.ballisticstudies.com/
 

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48.3 gr Vihtavuori N560
CCI 200 LRP
3.150" OAL

Trim case to 2.165", chamfer and debur, and crimp.
 

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48.3 gr Vihtavuori N560
CCI 200 LRP
3.150" OAL

Trim case to 2.165", chamfer and debur, and crimp.

Is the 2850 FPS what is anticipated from a book load, or what you shot over a chronograph? The 6.5x55 is my go to rifle for deer and hogs. I'm always looking for ways to improve performance providing I can maintain the accuracy the Swed. is known for.
 

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I don't use manuals for my loads. I have them and read them from time to time to ensure that I am doing it correctly and I re-learn things as well as see new things on occasion that help me as a handloader. I utilize Quickload software to make up loads and to ensure that I am not going past the pressure limits as well as utilizing a micrometer and a chronograph for this as well. BTW, QL predicts this load is only going at 2771 fps and it has been my experience that QL has been off by as much as 200 fps! That particular load shoots 1/2" MOA in my rifle at 100 yds. For some reason, I cannot locate my chronograph log book to let you know what the ES and SDs are for that load. The range I currently belong to won't let me set it up to take readings. Something about liabilities and such of other shooters. I can't wait to get my own property for shooting/ hunting!!!!
 

Daga Boy

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Those are super impressive V's.
Speaking for myself, I have not been able to get good accuracy with light bullets and heavy charges, but maybe I need to do some more work at the bench using other propellants as i would like to extend the rifle's usable application to cover long range desert and mountain hunting.
For the most part I stick to 140gr bullets going around 2400 - 2500fps (derived, not chrono'd) and these loads are more than enough for general plains game at moderate ranges. I include big, tough beasts like blue wildebeest, gemsbuck and Zebra , for which most people use much bigger calibres (338WM, 375H&H, etc) . Choice of bullet isn't too important as most stay relatively intact at these low Vs.
In fact i am inclined to think that the little 6.5 would be enough even for buffalo with a sufficiently strong bullet, but I haven't tried it and don't intend to unless its just a matter of putting an injured beast out of its misery. Obviously bullet placement would be critical.
(One of friends shot 2 with a 30-06 last year. 180gr Barnes TTSX behind the ear - dropped like stones).
 

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